Blackhawks Downed by Bill Wirtz
When we talk about Stanley Cup droughts many refer to the Leafs and 1967. However the Hawks have the biggest drought as they have not won the cup since 1961. They have had their chances. They lost twice to the powerhouse Habs of the 70s and they lost to some guy named Mario and the Pens in 1992.
But for the last few years the Hawks have been nothing but terrible. Sure they have made the playoffs here and there but nowadays they just go through the motions and are failing to follow up the tradition and legacy left but the likes of Hull, Hall, Mikita, Esposito and Savard.
You could post blame on many things. Like bad coaching (remember Alpo Suhonen and Lorne Molloken?) or bad management (Bob Murray) and just a simple case of poor talent. But the one who has caused the demise of the Hawks is owner Bill Wirtz.
Wirtz is the worst owner in the game. you could define the worst owner as being one who would move their teams for selfish reasons (like Norm Green, Marcel Aubut), ones who make money hand over fist but spend little to nothing (Jeremy Jacobs in Boston), Convicted criminals (John Spanno, John Rigas, Bruce McNall) or those who have spent excessively causing the financial problems of the game today (the Rangers). But in my book, Bill Wirtz is the worst of them all.
He took a hardline stance with heroes like Steve Larmer, Jeremy Roenick and Ed Belfour and pushed those stars out of town. These guys were the face of the franchise and Roenick would have been ideal to keep around to help fill the new United Center. Stripping the teams and its fans of players the city grew to love was a huge mistake. Instead they got to see Larmer win the Cup with the Rangers and Belfour lead Dallas to victory.
Wirtz has insisted he has lost tons of money that warranted moving it’s star players for younger cheaper talent. However playing in the big United Center charging a premium for tickets and getting some royalties thanks to being a part owner of the building, it is hard to fathom him incurring many losses. What he really lost was the fans and the ability to field a competitive team. paying high prices to watch a non-playoff team consistently losing is not what fans want and thus they turned away in droves. But it appears Wirtz has no problem with that as long as the bottom line is not effected.
But worst of all, in the age where technological advancement has been phenomenal, Wirtz insisted on blacking out the Hawks locally in order to encourage fans to attend games instead of watching on television. He has reluctantly put the Hawks on TV but really it is too little too late. Not allowing the team to be televised makes it hard for the common fan to follow. the regular Joe cant afford the high ticket prices Wirtz charges and take his family to the game and when he cant watch them on TV, he turns them off.
With the Hawks near the bottom of the standings, void of star players, with terrible attendance records it doesnt look like the Hawks will win the cup of their fans back any time soon.
There may be some hope for the future. The Hawks have a nice stable of young talent at their disposal. Corey Crawford may develop into a number 1 goalie taking over for Joc Thibault. They have a young big 3 on defence with Cam Barker, Brent Seabrook and Anton Babchuk that could anchor the team for years. Plus they have a potential superstar forward in Tuomo Ruutu to build the team around along with other solid young players like Mark Bell, Kyle Calder, and Tyler Arnason.
However based on history, Bill Wirtz will likely find a way to ruin things for the Hawks and continue the pain and suffering for Hawks fans.